More salmon, longer seasons
could be on tap for area anglers
By Mike Stahlberg The Register-Guard
March 27, 2007
West Coast salmon anglers should catch a break
next week. The Pacific Fishery Management Council,
following an April 3 public hearing in Seattle,
will make a final decision on 2007 ocean fishing
The council is expected to approve longer seasons
for recreational and commercial salmon anglers in
most Oregon and California offshore waters. The
outlook for Washington and extreme northern Oregon
waters, however, is murky.
Two positive developments make it possible for
state and federal fishery managers to undo last
year's drastic cuts in commercial and sport ocean
One is that wild coho salmon runs in streams along
the Oregon Coast continue to improve. That's
important because the number of wild fish dictates
how much sport fishing for hatchery coho is
allowed in the ocean.
advertisement (Anglers may keep only hatchery
fin-clipped fish, but the estimated "hooking
mortality" among wild fish that are caught and
released drives the harvest quotas for hatchery
This year's sport fishing quota could be as high
as 50,000 coho in the management zone that extends
from Cape Falcon south to the Oregon-California
border, if the council adopts the most liberal of
three "options" on the table. Other options
provide for quotas of 40,000 or 15,000.
The latter option, while unlikely to be approved,
is remarkable because it would allow the daily
two-fish bag limit to include one coho with an
intact adipose fin, something that hasn't been
allowed in many years.
Last summer's coho quota south of Cape Falcon was
The council also seems poised to set season dates
of June 23-Sept. 16, which would provide two weeks
more fishing than last summer's regulations.
The second piece of positive news is that
biologists predict more than 500,000 adult chinook
salmon will return to the Klamath River this year
- nearly five times the size of the 2006 run.
Depressed Klamath fall chinook stocks were the
main factor in last year's virtual shutdown of the
commercial salmon fishery along 700 miles of coast
in Northern California and Southern Oregon. (The
total West Coast commercial salmon harvest in 2006
was about 10 percent of normal).
Sport fishers should benefit from the improved
chinook outlook in the Klamath Management Zone.
However, the bulk of the fish returning to the
Klamath River this year will be 3-year-olds, which
are relatively small for "king" salmon.
While prospects are good for most Oregon and
California ocean salmon anglers, a poor outlook
for fall chinook salmon north of Cape Falcon will
take some of the excitement out of the season in
those waters, even though hatchery coho returns
there should be good.
Depressed fall chinook salmon runs in Washington
and in the lower Columbia likely will lead to
fishing restrictions. Commercial and recreational
fishermen from Cape Falcon northward may face a
combined catch limit of no more than 36,000 fish.
Oregon fishery managers are even discussing
possible restrictions on chinook fishing in the
Columbia River, including closing